Tuesday, June 27, 2017

India's Freedom on 15 August 1947 - Role of INA

All these years, I was convinced that India gained independence as a direct result of the non violent approach of the 'naram' dal under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. However, I have now changed my views on the subject after being exposed to certain facts that have not been public knowledge thus far, due to reasons beyond my comprehension. Getting to know these facts has led me to further exercise my grey cells. This exercise has now convinced me that as far as India is concerned, both 'naram' and 'garam' dal were equally important players in the achievement of our independence on 15 Aug 1947, and it thus stands to reason that equal importance should be given to each for their role in our birth as a free nation. Our history that is taught in schools, colleges, and universities would thus need to be updated to reflect these realities. 

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Gandhiji and the 'naram' dal had prepared every Indian mind for Swarajya (self rule), but the 'naram' dal approach would not have convinced the British to give us independence in 1947. My thinking convinces me that I would not have been born in a free India by just the 'non violent, non co-operative' approach, which I have been made to believe this far by my education and political systems. I feel the soil of Indian nationalism and the idea of independence had been sown in every Indian's mind by the efforts of the 'naram' dal. However, the independence would not have come about as long as the Indian forces and police remained loyal to the British. Many events that happened during those years led to the Indian police and defence forces loyalty being called into question. Thus it was rightly assessed by the British government that it would not be possible for the few thousand British citizens stationed in India to control millions of Indians without active and loyal support of the Indian police and military personnel. 

I believe the red fort trials of the personnel of the INA between November 1945 and May 1946 were the trigger that awakened the British Indian forces to Indian nationalism. The British joint trials of three stalwarts of the Indian National Army (INA), Col. Prem Sahgal, Col. Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Gen. Shah Nawaz Khan on  charges of murder, abetment to murder, and “waging war against the King-Emperor” did not go down well with the people of India, as they considered these three individuals, practicing three different faiths, to be patriots. Nationalist emotion was awakened which led the then Secretary of the War Department, write that "in a matter of weeks ... in a wave of nationalist emotion, the INA were acclaimed heroes who fought for the freedom of India." 

The British Indian forces revolted as a consequence of these red fort trials and some unrelated minor incidents in Bombay, in February 1946. These spread to the other forces as well. The revolt which started in the Royal Indian Navy soon spread to the Air Force and Army units and the loyalty of the the Indian troops could not be taken for granted by the British. This coupled with the fact that there were only 40,000 Britishers, who were fed up after the world war, and were also not considered adequate to handle this volatile situation. This fact also coincided with the demobilisation of about 25 lakhs battle tested Indian troops. The British felt that the situation in India could only be controlled with the declaration of independence, which was announced by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Clement Attlee on 20 February 1947.

I now firmly believe that the role of Netaji and the INA has not been suitably highlighted in our historical texts and school text books. I am also convinced that Indian independence in 1947 is a direct result of a number of factors, which prominently includes the activities of the 'naram' and 'garam' dal both. The 'Naram' dal had instilled the idea of Swarajya in every Indian's mind, but that by itself would not have been adequate grounds for the British to give us independence in 1947. The Red Fort trials were the needed trigger to awaken the nationalism in every Indian, and the nature of the trials were the spark that led to revolt of the British Indian forces, leading to insecurity in the minds of the British top brass in India, which finally accelerated the independence of India.

We need to suitably amend our historical records to bring out the fact that Netaji and the INA too, a defeated and forgotten Army, had a major role to play in our achieving independence on 15 August 1947.

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